Title: Everything I Never Told You
Author: Celeste Ng
Genre: Historical Fiction
Narrated By: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 10 hours, 2 minutes
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publish Date: June 26, 2014
Setting: Middletown, Ohio
Death, Suicide, Sex, Racism
Thank you so much to Hannah for having this as my December main read. We are doing this thing where we give each other a book to read for the month, and hopefully the other person ends up liking it, you know? I chose We Set the Dark on Fire for her, so I’m curious to see what she thinks about it. And now, she gets to read my full thoughts on the novel that she picked for me! Let’s get it going!
- Oh snap okay, there’s a death immediately in the first sentence. I’m kind of sad.
- I can’t imagine being of mixed race growing up in Ohio in the 70s.
- I… just can’t imagine losing a sibling honestly.
And to be honest, I’ve been sitting on this review for a couple or so days now, and I just still don’t know how to put my thoughts into words, so this is going to be a mini review, that will hopefully be at least somewhat coherent because I just don’t even know.
So first of all, I was totally misled because I swear the narrator for this was Asian, but it’s Cassandra Campbell, which I know and do love as a narrator?! Anyway, that may not matter as much but I thought that she really just… sounded like she could have been Chinese-American, which probably sounds really bad of me because I always hate when people assume my ethnicity when they hear me on the phone and are usually wrong. Talk about internal biases, I guess.
But anyway, I think this book just really bothered me – possibly in a good way – because I literally did not like anyone in this novel. I don’t have to like the characters to like the book though, so don’t worry about that. But seriously I was just so angry at everyone in this book! Every single person. Nobody felt like someone I should care about, or sympathize with, or anything like that. Here are some examples:
- I get that Lydia became the center of her family’s attention – her mom and her dad especially – but rather than standing up for herself and saying that she does NOT want to be a doctor, she would literally take away any positive attention that her brother Nath was getting and turn it back on her.
- Like, Nath got accepted into Harvard for early admission, and THAT’s when she decides to tell her parents that she’s falling school? That just seemed so damn petty to me. I get that she didn’t want to be alone, her and Nath were always together and she really relied on him, but for once their parents could see that Nath was actually really smart, and that even if they didn’t care about him, he was doing something for himself and that he didn’t allow his parents lack of attention towards him to stop him. I don’t know, that part just really, really bothered me.
- And then the whole family basically felt like Hannah (the third child) was just… unwanted. I mean, there was a part where Marilyn (the mom) was setting the table for dinner, and she legit forgot about Hannah until she came downstairs and was like.. there’s no plate of food for me. Hannah doesn’t even say anything to her parents or siblings either. She just puts herself in a corner and makes herself invisible because she knows that they didn’t want her. That’s just freaking terrible to me.
- Then of course after tragedy strikes, we hear Marilyn’s thoughts about her family being part Chinese, which just devastated me. She KNEW that her family wasn’t going to be the typical white American family. She knew that and she loved James anyway. And I understand that she was speaking out of hurt and grief, but could you imagine how James felt hearing that because he’s Chinese, it was probably his fault that Lydia and Nath had to go through some of the same discrimination that he did growing up? That it may have had something to do with Lydia’s death?
- Then the whole adultery thing. Oh my gosh. I’m not even going to get into that because that is spoiler territory and I’m still so angry about it.
But anyway, I did like this book! Like seriously, I really did, even with my little tirade in the beginning. Well, for the majority of my post, but anyway. I think that Ng may be a new author to me that I’ll want to read more books of. I was definitely sad about Lydia since… I mean she is dead, you know? I was really sad about Hannah and how lonely she felt being in this family. This whole book just made me sad, and yet I could relate on so many levels. Just so many levels.
So yeah, despite my intense emotional feelings about the content of this book, like what happened and all that, I still really enjoyed this novel.
6 thoughts on “Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng”
Nice review! I thought this book was especially sad and depressing! And Its not a book I recommend for those reasons. I almost didn’t read her next one because of it. Them FOMO got me! I ended up loving it a lot more! So give Little Fies Everywhere a try! 👍😍
I loved this book so deeply but it’s a tough book Ng likes to punch you in the face and then kick you in the gut with her stories
I just saw a copy of this book at the local thrift book store the other day and… didn’t buy it. Now I just need to go back (hopefully it’s still there…) lol
I’m so conflicted about starting this book now lol I have a feeling that I’ll also dislike the characters based on what you’ve said, and that’ll drive me insane! But at the same time I’m really curious to read it as I enjoyed Ng’s second book (Little Fires Everywhere) when I read it last year. This sounds like a pretty sad book though… But I’m curious to know how the ending will resolve what happens at the start! Great review 🙂